by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

It was an evening featuring sprint cars, sprint cars, and more sprint cars at Fremont Speedway, planted inside the Sandusky County Fairgrounds. The AFCS 410’s and 305’s were completing their doubleheader weekend after competing at Attica Raceway Park Friday night, and joining them were the Great Lakes Super Sprints 360 series, making for a sprint car triple-header on a gorgeous evening in northwest Ohio.

410 Feature: Byron Reed, who came up one spot short on Friday night, and Mike Keegan, with his second straight P2 starting position, led the field to the green flag of the 30 lap, $4,000-to-win feature. Reed got the jump on Keegan, bringing fourth-starting Travis Philo with him. Reed and Philo were side-by-side as they completed the first lap, but Reed held on to the lead as they settled into their positions. Cap Henry was also able to get around Keegan and was all over Philo for second in turns one and two on lap two, but Philo was able to pull away by turns three and four. 

By lap five, Reed had extended his lead to 1.548 seconds over Philo, and that lead held steady for the next few laps until Reed started getting into lapped traffic around lap nine. Henry had caught back up to Philo, and showed a nose on lap nine, but again Philo held his ground, meanwhile, they had cut Reed’s lead in half. Philo was stalking Reed by lap 11 as Reed, in his last season of racing, maneuvered through traffic. Philo went down low in turns three and four on lap 12, but Reed was able to maintain the lead. Philo tried again in turns one and two but just couldn’t make it stick. 

Third time’s the charm for Philo, though. On lap 13, Philo slid Reed in turns three and four and there was a new leader. Reed couldn’t counter immediately and by the halfway point, Philo was ahead by .846 seconds, and Reed would have to start worrying about Cap Henry in third. Philo kept extending his lead, and Henry kept getting closer to Philo as the laps clicked away. Philo’s lead got up to 2.615 seconds on lap 18, and Henry was all over Reed for second, but the first caution would fly on lap 21.

This caution got Philo out of lapped traffic, but erased his lead of 3.5 seconds. It would be a ten lap shootout for the win. Henry, who was scored in second as the caution came out, was close to Philo on the restart, but not close enough to make a move, as Zeth Sabo worked his way into third. Philo slowly gapped Henry, getting his lead up to 1.057 seconds on lap 24, but another caution would come out with six laps remaining. 

It was a good restart for Philo, and Henry didn’t mount a challenge as Cale Thomas now claimed the third spot from Sabo. Philo again gapped Henry, getting his lead up to 1.287 seconds, but the third and final yellow flag would fly with just three laps remaining. Henry would get one more shot at Philo for the chance to sweep the AFCS weekend. Philo got a good jump on the final restart, but Henry kept the 33W machine close down the backstretch. As the white flag flew, Henry would get even closer to Philo in turns one and two, and all of the sudden, they were side-by-side going down the backstretch. Henry was going to have a major run coming off the exit of turn four, but Philo was able to slam the door right at the start/finish line, and finished .123 seconds ahead of Henry.

This would be Philo’s second-career Fremont win, and his second win of 2023. Cap Henry, Cale Thomas, Nate Dussel and Stuart Brubaker would round out the top five.

360 Feature: The 360’s were next on the docket, and they had some big shoes to fill after that exciting 410 race, and boy, did they not only fill those shoes, they walked from the track to the local Frickers in them. 

Max Stambaugh and Luke Griffith would lead the field to green for 25 laps. Stambaugh was able to get the lead on the start, and third-starting Nate Dussel got by Griffith for second. Stambaugh bobbled in turns one and two, allowing Dussel to pull alongside of him for the lead, but the yellow came out which would negate any possible move. 

Stambaugh nailed the ensuing restart as Phil Gressman, Kobe Allison, and Griffith went three-wide for third. Stambaugh’s lead was holding steady around the one second mark, but the yellow would come out again on lap six. Dussel got a better restart this time around, but the green was only temporary as it was quickly replaced with another yellow.

Thankfully, that was the final yellow of the race, and this is when things started to pick up. Stambaugh maintained the lead on the restart, but Dussel kept him in check, working the top side of the track. All of the sudden, Dussel threw a slider at Stambaugh, but Stambaugh was able to counter in turns three and four. Next lap, same deal. Dussel threw another slider, but Stambaugh was able to hold on to the lead. Stambaugh started to inch away from Dussel at this point, but lapped traffic loomed. 

With five laps remaining, Dussel was reeling Stambaugh in as he caught lapped traffic. Stambaugh was able to get a lapped car between himself and the charging Dussel, but that didn’t deter the #1 car. After getting around the lapped car, Dussel would be able to get one more shot at Stambaugh, but it would be on the last lap. Dussel sent it into turns one and two, and was able to close the gap, and get a run down the backstretch. Dussel sent it into turns three and four, setting up for a drag race to the line. It was close, much closer than the 410 feature, but it would be Stambaugh that nipped Dussel at the line by .004 seconds. 

This was Stambaugh’s first career Fremont Speedway win, and he was able to extend his GLSS points lead as well. Nate Dussel, Jared Hortsman, Phil Gressman and Brandon Moore completed the top five. 

Max Stambaugh’s post-race interview can be found here: Max Stambaugh Post-Win at Fremont 7/29/23

305 Feature: Now, it was the AFCS 305’s turn to cap off the night. Dustin Stroup and Kasey Ziebold, coming off her career-best 305 finish the night before, led the field to green for what would be 25 caution-free laps. Stroup got out to the early lead, as third starting Jamie Miller and eighth (!!!) starting Paul Weaver got by Ziebold for second and third place, respectively. It didn’t take long for Weaver, who had to start and park at Attica on Friday, to come after Miller for second. And it didn’t take long for Weaver to get second. With one swift move under Miller in turns one and two, Weaver got second. 

Stroup still enjoyed the lead, though, but lapped traffic would throw a wrench into Stroup’s drive as Weaver inched closer and closer. On lap 13, Weaver took a peak under Stroup for the lead, but couldn’t make the move stick. Weaver tried the same move on lap 14, but had the same result. Lap 15 was different because once again, the third time was the charm. Weaver got under Stroup in turns three and four and made it stick. 

The race was Weaver’s to lose at that point. He had a 2.1 second lead over Stroup with seven laps remaining. Stroup was stuck in lapped traffic and couldn’t make the moves that Weaver was making. Weaver would go on to claim his 74th career Fremont win by 2.6 seconds. Dustin Stroup, John Ivy, Jamie Miller and Logan Riehl would complete the top five.